The last few years have given us P-Pop acts that conquered the local scene and brought their names into the international setting. It is safe to say that the Philippine Pop industry has finally crossed the threshold where it is now flourishing the most.
These P-Pop icons have done more than bring home the bacon from global recognitions to Billboard Music Award nominations. And among the notable roster of talented idols who made a huge buzz in just 2021 alone are the globally-famous SB19, Alamat, BGYO, BINI, and the Monster Rookies, VXON.
1st.One — Jacks of All Trades, Masters of Many
From a group that covers K-Pop dances and songs, 1st.One becomes the first-ever Filipino Boy Group under FirstOne Entertainment. Formed from many talented boys originally called VJBros, they made it through local headlines with their dance covers.
For 1st.One, it all began with the milestones reached by VJBros. They took these breakthroughs as a stepping stone that later became their ladder to success. This P-Pop group was the first and only group to represent the Philippines on SMA 2020, even before they debuted. Furthermore, it’s not to say that they don’t have an impressive track record back when they were still VJBros.
They have a slew of awards under their belt from 2018 to 2019. To name a few, they won first place in the Dance category of the 28th Philippine-Korea Cultural Exchange Festival 2018. VJBros was the Grand Winner at Seoul Music Awards PH Dance To Your Seoul the following year.
1st.One —FIRSTONE Entertainment’s first Filipino P-Pop Group
Shortly before their initial debut on July 31, 2020, the group performed at the Seoul Music Awards with several well-known K-Pop artists such as Taeyeon, Red Velvet, NCT, Twice, Monsta X, and many others.
Little did the group know that their performance in SMA would open the door to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And when asked how the group was formed, here is what they have to say,
It started with 1st.One Leader ACE. He was the very 1st Filipino trainee of FirstOne Entertainment. One day the management’s top officials approached him and said that they will be having an audition in the Philippines.
Every group name ever created always has this history behind it. And for 1st.One, even though there was no deep meaning behind it, it has two implications. First, it serves as the direct representation of the company’s name. It reminded them always to give their best because they are the company’s pride.
Second, to inspire more people to achieve their dreams and use their talents to improve. No matter what one’s beliefs are, it can only be done if one always puts the Lord first in the center of everything. Always make Him the 1st.One.
And like every other artist, be it a soloist or a group, have their fandom. 1st.One calls their fans, For.One. The name is from the collaborative idea of the group and the company, which means to be one with the fans, forever one, in short For.One.
Getting to know more about 1st.One
Everyone has their dream career. The road is long, and the journey is harrowing, but anyone can be who they want to become with the proper motivation and perseverance. And when asked what made them pursue a career in music, here is what the group has to say,
Our passion for music, singing, and dancing. And our desire to live the one and only life we have for our dreams and passion. Our dream is to always make a living with the talents that we have, have fun doing it, succeed in life, and inspire people while we’re at it.
In addition, the group was very vocal about the sacrifices they made in their quest to achieve their dreams,
There are a lot but one of our biggest sacrifices is being away from our families. Sometimes we only get to go home every weekend or even not at all if our schedules are really jam-packed. We want to work and do our best to also provide for our families in exchange for not having as much time to be with them. Our parents are growing old without us, were not there when they are sick, and so on and so forth.
Indeed, the road to success won’t always be smooth and straight. According to the boys, they have wanted to be idols ever since they were young. They were admiring the likes of Michael Jackson, Gary Valenciano, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and many more. It is part of who they are now, and they wouldn’t change anything.
Moving on to the talks about the industry, the era of Philippine Pop has begun. Among the other rising boy groups, the boys were asked what makes them unique.
Actually, other boy groups have their own goals and ways that make them unique. We actually focus more on how we can improve and grow within ourselves because at the end of the day our ultimate rival is ourselves. We seek to always be better than ourselves from yesterday. What we’re sure of is that the fire within our hearts, mind, and souls that keeps us dreaming and reaching for our goals is one of the strongest forces of being artists that others will ever get to see. We all have this motto that the perfect way to succeed and FLY is by keeping our feet on the ground while having our eyes on the sky. It is an endless devotion and journey for us. What makes us unique is the intensity of the fire within us.
ACE – Leader & Main Vocalist
From VJBros to being an official group as 1st.One, the boys have been together for a while to know how they each complement each other. Even though J and Jayson were added later to the pack.
Val John Librea, now known by his stage name Ace, was approached by the management to audition for the company. He admitted that he was the one who persuaded Alpha to join alongside him. His name means that he is the group’s ace as the leader, which in K-Pop, means that he is the most well-rounded. Ace then talked about their training days,
Yes we underwent training. I trained for 4 years. While Joker, Max, Alpha, and J trained for 3 years. Jayson trained for 2 years (but equal to 3 years in quality of training because the company wanted him to really catch up). The training was deadly from diet, to workout, to dance , singing and rap. We were put in a situation wherein if we didnt develop and grow we will be swallowed up and thrown away by the training system. Imagine drinking 1 liter of water only for the whole day while dancing for like 9hours a day locked in a hot room. Thats our daily dance routine. Other training regimen were also as hard. Thankfully we had each other, OUR FAMILY and God to keep us strong.
MAX – Main Vocalist
Carlo Edwin Fernandez II, also known now as 1st.One’s Max is the group’s main vocalist. Originally part of the VJBros along with Ace, Alpha, and Joker, he has been one of the first members to join the group. Max says he is very fond of the For.Ones and is very thankful for all their support.
What really inspires me to persevere in my career is our fans. They’re really putting all of their efforts and time for us. I really love our fans (For.One). We couldn’t have done everything without them. They’re our inspiration and strength. We really appreciate all of their efforts, time, and also love for us.
Max was not shy to share how he wanted their fans to remember them. He even went on and said,
Our love. Our love not only for the fans— but also to the nonfans. You know, even to the haters. Our love for those who continue to work hard for things or persons they love in life. Our love to inspire. Because love is the best thing we can offer this world and this life. Without love this world would never be a better place to live in.
ALPHA – Main Rapper
Jonas Cyrone Cruz, famously known now as Alpha, was a member of the Manoeuvres Ignite (New Gen) apart from VJBros.
To be honest, all of our songs are my favorites but the one that stands out the most is ‘OH’ because all of the hardships and hardworks that we experienced throughtout our journey as P-Pop Boy group as described and expressed on the concept of our song. And despite all that, we continue to persevere and strive harder to achieve our goals and dreams in life.Alpha on his favorite song sang or written by them.
JOKER – Lead Vocalist
Philip Russel Balicad, aka Joker, is the lead vocalist who specializes in dancing, rapping, and composing music. As a former member of Autonomicass Crew, Kiddy MNL, and VJBros, Joker was asked he realized that he had the talent for singing and dancing; he answered,
In grade school, I love watching dance movies like Stomp the Yard, Step Up, You Got Served, etc. But what makes me inspired the most to dance is the Philippine Allstars. I realized that I wanted to pursue dancing when I was in college. I tried to join a dance crew and luckily passed the audition. We competed locally and internationally. Honestly, I’m not into singing, but when I became a 1st.One member, Kuya Ace and Max, helped me discover my singing skills from scratch. Up until now, I’m still a student who wants to improve my singing and dancing skills.
J – Lead Rapper
Jesper Kyle San Agustin, or J, is the lead rapper who was also a member of the same group as Joker. As someone who had been in groups before he finally debuted as 1st.One, J went on the details of what they felt when they finally debuted.
Actually, at first, we still couldn’t believe that it was accurate and happening. We felt amazed and happy for ourselves. It was such a blessing to have a debut like that. Although we knew we’d been working and dreaming of being here, we still couldn’t believe that we had made it. What did we feel when we finally debuted? We felt humbled, blessed, thankful, loved, and thought that there is still room for growth and development every day.
1st.One debuted with the song “You Are The One (Ttak Maja Nuh)”, composed by Shin Min-Chul, a former member of T-Max, and is produced by South Korean lyricist and producer, Docskim. And the powerful choreography was made by Ryu.D, the leader of Team Auspicious, and choreographed for big companies like SM, JYP, and Pledis.
JAYSON – Sub Rapper, Youngest
Jayson Lee, or just Jason (Jayson) as he’s professionally known, is the youngest member and the last to join the group. If people still remember, Jayson was once featured in Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho back in 2017.
1st.One’s Dream Collaboration with other Artists
The P-Pop industry is full of amazingly talented artists, and 1st.One had specific names of those they wanted to collaborate with. This was the group’s response,
Oh a lot! Michael Jackson if he was still alive. USHER, Chris Brown , Ne Yo, Gary Valenciano, BTS, EXO, our korean counter part Boygroup (Nine-I) from Firstone Entertainment Korea. Our debuting sister girl group Dione and all the P-POP groups out there . Were friends with some of them actually. And it would be great to mix everyones unique strengths and make a chemical explosion of talents and creativity.
There is no competition in music—just a big stage for equal dreamers who have performing and music as their common ground.
The First Comeback after the Hiatus
Last 2021, the group released a second single titled “OH” with Gift, Official Road to Comeback. It was a catchy but heartfelt song at 1st.One dedicated to anyone who is lost and afraid of taking risks. It aims to remind people that we are all born for more incredible things as long as we believe in ourselves. Time to break the chains and get out of that comfort zone because the world is yours for the taking.
After which, the group went on an extended hiatus which made the fans miss them for four months. But at last, 1st.One made its first official comeback last January 15 with a powerful song entitled, ‘SHOUT OUT.’
Last February 15, the song peaked at 2nd on MYX Daily Top 10. If you think that is already an achievement, wait until you hear the views they achieved in just two months! A whopping 1.7 million! And just recently, the boys have been nominated as Group Performer of the Year at the 3rd VP Choice Awards. For.Ones have been working hard; we see you. Also, it is about that time that people stop sleeping on this talented group.
One Dream, Hope, and Love, All for the For.Ones
1st.One has always been vocal about how thankful they are for their For.Ones. As if they haven’t thanked them enough, the group’s message is to all their beloved fans and future supporters.
Its been 2 long years of pandemic but you supported us and kept us alive through it all. Now it’s our time to give back and show you how much we truly love you. We can now see each other in person, even though limited. So we’re really looking forward to seeing you all in this year’s first ever 2022 PPOP CON at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. We’ll be performing with other P-Pop artists as well. April 9 and We’re really looking forward to seeing you on April 9-10 and also in this year’s 2022 Tugatog Music Festival concert. We know youve been waiting for this and were also very excited to perform for all of you LIVE. We love you!
Stay tuned for more of 1st.One
1st.One is probably one of the most underrated P-Pop groups out there that deserve the hype and recognition. Even without another comeback for a while, pretty sure the For.Ones would be waiting patiently for the return of their faves. Not only does this group have powerful songs, but also amazing choreographies.
People may wonder why there is no Main Dancer in the group among all the positions. Unlike other groups, 1st.One has no main dancer because all the members are equally impressive when it comes to moving gracefully to one’s rhythm. Nevertheless, it is to note that they come from different dance backgrounds. After all, almost all of them are experienced dancers who’ve competed locally and internationally.
The phrase “Jack of all trades, masters of none, but better than masters of only one,” fits perfectly with the talented 1st.One. Like a blank slate, their group dynamics prove how they can be great as a team but still shine individually. Their individual mastered talents and skills create a fusion of such incredible artistry.
What are you waiting for?
If you haven’t stanned this group, this might as well be all the signs you need to start now. Oh, and to all the strong For.Ones who are out reading this, let us know who your bias is in the comments below.
First One Entertainment PH/ First One Entertainment Inc. President | Aaron Cha
Vice President | Aaron Kim
Handler and Director | Raymond Fabian
Creative Director | Nash August
Photographer | Mark Neto
Assistant Photographer | Gellovee Wite
Grooming | Paige Seneres
Hair | Bhelle Alba
Stylist | Nash Agust
Styling Associate | Ruzzian Escaros
Earrings: Flutter Statement Jewelry
"Leanne or LJ -- as what her friends would like to call her-- is a walking enigma. She loves reading books more than going out, but would if her family drags her out. The limelight was never her spot, and if you look hard enough, you'll find her in a corner enjoying her peace in the shadows of other people's light.